Gaddafi’s proposal on Nigeria
EARLIER this week, the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, while addressing students in his country, advocated the dismemberment of the Nigerian federation into two new countries. The boundaries of the new entities, he proposed, would be along the geographical lines of the north and south. This, he believes, is the antidote to the kind of crisis that has seized Plateau State in recent times, occasioning the mindless waste of hundreds of lives.
As a precedent, Gaddafi cited the creation of Pakistan, which was excised from India in 1947. Pakistan is predominantly Muslim, while India is majorly Hindu, and rampant religious strife had resulted in frequent bloodletting. The Libyan leader described the Plateau violence as “a deep conflict of religious nature” caused by the nature of the Nigerian federation, “which was made and imposed by the British, in spite of the people’s resistance to it”. He claimed that the partition of India was a “historic and radical solution,” although he offered no explanation why Pakistan has been wracked by violence even after the split from India.
It is not difficult to appreciate why Gaddafi this time around is pretending to be an expert on how Nigeria should be governed. In his moments of megalomania, he has sometimes seen himself as President of a “United States of Africa”. And the Libyan government under his watch since 1969 has routinely been accused of aiding and abetting internal strife in some African countries, notably in West Africa. This is quite aside from the fact that Libya was a known sponsor of terrorism, one of the saddest incidents of which was the blowing up of Pan Am Flight 108 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. Only recently have key Western countries begun dealing with Gaddafi, even if tentatively.
If he was reacting to the crisis in Plateau State, then he failed to realise that issues in Nigeria are not just sectarian, but complex. Gaddafi’s solution of bifurcation is simplistic; and to have voiced it at a public forum is all the more objectionable. His ignorant proposition assumes that the North of Nigeria is religiously monolithic, by being Muslim; while the South, in his thinking, is also monolithic, by being Christian.
On the contrary, there are millions of Christians who are indigenes in the northern states. Similarly, there are millions of Muslims who hail from the South. In fact, in some families, there is a good mix of Christians, Muslims and traditionalists. In any event, homogeneity does not necessarily guarantee nationhood, as the case of Somalia tragically reveals.
Gaddafi’s suggestion is undiplomatic. For an African leader, who only last year was Chairman of the African Union, it is a most irresponsible and careless statement to make. It is beyond his brief no matter his concern, and we are unable, given his track record to discern any genuine motive in his proposal, to call on another state to be dismembered. He is openly and unabashedly meddling in the internal affairs of another state.
Already, the widespread condemnation of Gaddafi’s proposal by ordinary and influential Nigerians, including Senate President David Mark, who described the Libyan leader as a “madman”, is an indication of their rejection of Gaddafi’s solution. It is all the more revolting that an outsider is pretending to be a problem-solver.
The proposal of disintegration, coming from a Head of State, is not just disrespectful to Nigeria; but in fact a hostile act. The Nigerian Government must react accordingly. Let no one take cold comfort in the fact that Gaddafi was merely expressing a solitary opinion. Or, that he had previously made a preposterous suggestion that Switzerland be obliterated from the map and its territory shared among Germany, France and Italy. You ignore Gaddafi to your own peril. In the past, he was alleged to have attempted to fan religious embers in northern Nigeria. Now, he has latched onto the crisis in and around Jos to make his crackpot proposal. No one can be certain what his ultimate intentions are, although it is clear to diplomatic watchers that Gaddafi would gladly welcome a situation where there is no influential country like Nigeria today, to checkmate his continental ambitions.
We expect the Federal Government to express its extreme displeasure over Gaddafi’s ill-advised statement. The net effect, of course, is that the Libyan leader has orchestrated a diplomatic spat with Nigeria. Straightway, the Libyan Ambassador to Nigeria should be invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, where Gaddafi’s repugnant suggestion and interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs should be deplored in the extreme. The Nigerian Government should follow up immediately with a recall of her ambassador to Tripoli, for further consultations at home.
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While everyone has a right to his own opinion, I believe Muammar Gaddafi has his, and Nigerians have theirs as well. Since the above statement by Gaddafi, we have been all ears. Its a genuine question we should ask ourselves though: do we want Nigeria to divide? If Nigeria divides into two countries, for example, who belongs where? who gains and who looses?
Would you tell a Musa who was born and bred in Lagos to go back to his fathers land in Kano? or would you tell a Ghenga living in the Maiduguri to pack his bags and go back south? Would Emeka be ready to leave Lagos for the East?
What would happen to the many families composed of blood-related Christians and Muslims? intermarried Northerners and Southerners who have chosen to take shelter either in the North or South? Which part of the country would they choose to belong, considering that Christians in the North might take such a proposal(division of Nigeria to two) as an intending persecution, and run for shelter somewhere else. Though our members are many and our ways of life different, are we better as one-nation, or we are better divided.
The floor is now open: should Nigeria divide? should we call it quits and let everyone go home?
Yes, or No, and why!